THANK YOU MIKE MACK AND THE NORTH SHORE HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY!

Many thanks to Mike Mack and the North Shore Horticultural Society for the invitation to present “The Hummingbird Garden.” We had a great talk and I really want to thank everyone who volunteered what Ruby-throated Hummingbirds like to forage on in their gardens. Hummingbirds are opportunistic feeders and it was so interesting to learn the plants that support RTHummingbirds in other’s gardens. Although Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the most widely distributed Hummingbird in North America many aspects of its migration, breeding, and ecology remain poorly understood. In addition to what was presented, local gardeners added Cuphea, Penstemon ‘Husker Red,’ Rose of Sharon (all shades), Agastache, and a flowering quince in a rich shade of fuchsia.

Special thanks to the lady who brought a hummingbird nest and shared it with the attendees.

A reader inquired about a photo that I had posted with the announcement of the lecture. The photo is of a Rivoli’s Hummingbird and was taken in Macheros, Estado de México. We were staying in a tiny cottage on the banks of a forested mountain stream. The banks were abundant with blooming Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans) and both the gently flowing stream and flowering sage were Mecca for all the hummingbirds in the neighborhood. Every morning we awoke to the chattering of dozens of hummingbirds, mostly Rivoli’s and White-eared Hummingbirds, bathing in the stream and drinking nectar from the sage.

A note about Rivoli’s Hummingbirds. They were originally called Rivoli’s, then the name was changed to Magnificent Hummingbird, but it’s name has since reverted back to Rivoli’s Hummingbird.

Rivoli’s Hummingbird and Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans)

KIM SMITH PRESENTS “THE HUMMINGBIRD GARDEN” FOR THE NORTH SHORE HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY THURSDAY OCTOBER 24TH

THE HUMMINGBIRD GARDEN

OCTOBER 24TH AT 7:30PM

SACRED HEART CHURCH PARISH HALL

62 SCHOOL STREET

MANCHESTER, MA

Please join me Thursday evening at the Sacred Heart Church in Manchester where I will be giving my presentation “The Hummingbird Garden” for The North Shore Horticultural Society. It has been a phenomenal year for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds on Cape Ann and I am looking forward to sharing information on how you, too, can create a hummingbird haven. I hope to see you there!

“The Hummingbird Garden” is free for members and five dollars for guests.

THE HUMMINGBIRD GARDEN

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only species of hummingbird that nests in Massachusetts. Learn what to plant to help sustain this elusive beauty while it is breeding in our region and during its annual spring and fall migrations. Through photographs and discussion we’ll learn about the life cycle of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird and the best plants to attract this tiniest of breeding birds to your garden.

KIM SMITH PRESENTS “THE HUMMINGBIRD GARDEN” FOR THE NORTH SHORE HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY THURSDAY OCTOBER 24TH

THE HUMMINGBIRD GARDEN

OCTOBER 24TH AT 7:30PM

SACRED HEART CHURCH PARISH HALL

62 SCHOOL STREET

MANCHESTER, MA

Please join me Thursday evening at the Sacred Heart Church in Manchester where I will be giving my presentation “The Hummingbird Garden” for The North Shore Horticultural Society. It has been a phenomenal year for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds on Cape Ann and I am looking forward to sharing information on how you, too, can create a hummingbird haven. I hope to see you there!

“The Hummingbird Garden” is free for members and five dollars for guests.

THE HUMMINGBIRD GARDEN

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only species of hummingbird that nests in Massachusetts. Learn what to plant to help sustain this elusive beauty while it is breeding in our region and during its annual spring and fall migrations. Through photographs and discussion we’ll learn about the life cycle of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird and the best plants to attract this tiniest of breeding birds to your garden.

caption this! Hawk eating prey after the storm

Hawk eating an unfortunate bird on the roof of an office of Gloucester home by the boulevard

Post storm wildlife

How would you caption this scene outside your window? My friend shared this photograph of a hawk eating an unfortunate bird on a small roof at her house by the boulevard, Gloucester, MA, January 6 2018.

DANCE OF THE TREE SWALLOWS

Male Tree Swallow

You may have noticed the pretty swallows perching in clusters on telephone lines and flying low over the sand. Both Barn and Tree Swallows can be found at the beach throughout the warmer months, but the birds that are beginning to gather on Cape Ann en masse are the Tree Swallows. The following is a short film from last year’s migration that explains what is happening at this time of year with the Tree Swallows here on our beaches and dunes, and in our neighborhoods.

M is For Migration Through Massachusetts
Responding to Reader’s Questions About Tree Swallows
New Short Film: Tree Swallows Massing

LEARN HOW YOU CAN HELP THE POLLINATORS THURSDAY NIGHT AT THE SAWYER FREE LIBRARY

Seaside Goldenrod for Bees and Butterflies

Come on over to the Sawyer Free Library Thursday night and learn how you can create a welcoming haven for birds, bees, and butterflies!

Plant Cosmos for the Birds, Bees, and Butterflies

Marsh Milkweed for the Butterflies and Bees

Male and Female Luna Moths

Zinnias for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Bees, and Butterflies

Mexican Sunflower and Bee

Monarch and Hibiscus

 

NEW SHORT FILM: TREE SWALLOWS MASSING

This short film is dedicated a dear friend who recently lost a beloved family member. Along with the tender melody by Jules Massenet, especially the last bits of footage (before the credits) made me think of angels and of hope.

  *   *   *

Over the course of the summer while filming the Piping Plover Family at Wingaersheek Beach, Tree Swallows began flocking in ever increasing numbers. They became part of the Piping Plover story not only because a Tree Swallow will occasionally dive bomb a Piping Plover, for whatever reason I am not entirely sure, but also because they are beautiful to observe, and occasionally, seemingly playful, too.

Songbirds that they are, Tree Swallows make a cheery chirping chatter. They have long narrow forked tails, all the better for gliding and for their signature aerial acrobatics. The male’s upper parts are a brilliant iridescent blue-green, the female’s somewhat duller, and both female and male have white underparts. The migrating juveniles are almost entirely brown with either white or pale grayish underparts.tree-swallows-gloucester-massachusetts-11-copyright-kim-smith

Tree Swallows breed in the wetlands and fields of Cape Ann. Their name comes from the species habit of nesting in tree cavities. Tree Swallows have benefited tremendously from efforts to help save the Eastern Bluebird because they also nest in the nest boxes built specifically for the Bluebirds.

Acrobatic aerialists, they twist and turn mid-flight to capture a wide variety of insects including butterflies, dragonflies, greenheads, bees, beetles, and wasps.tree-swallows-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smith

Tree Swallows eating insects on the beach and from the crevasses in the driftwood.

Utilizing both fresh and saltwater to bathe, Tree Swallows have a unique habit of quickly dipping and then shaking off the excess water while flying straight upwards.

Tree Swallows begin migrating southward in July and August. The flocks that we see gathering on Cape Ann migrate along the Atlantic Flyway. They overwinter in the southern states of the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Unlike migrating species of butterflies, several generations of Tree Swallows migrate together, the older birds showing the younger birds the way.

Music composed by Jules Massenet: “Méditation” from Thaïs

The waze and wikipedia of bird sightings- Ebird, crowdsourcing since 2002- shows Gloucester whale watching great for birding and

The online database collaboration of Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society compiles aggregate data from engaged birders. What a staggering quantity of volunteers taking the time to share and record data!

Although Cape Ann towns are not ‘hot spots’

it’s fun to sift through the information and peek at some public competition. The top 100 birders in MA are predominantly male.  (We know Cape Ann is a birding hot spot though it may not be a recording hot spot.) There are plenty of reports from scenic North Shore sites: Cranes Beach, Plum Island, Chewbacco Woods, Coolidge Reservation, Eastern Point, and Halibut Point. Less traveled spots such as ‘Lanesville Community garden’ and local cemeteries have a diary entry feel to them and fun to peruse. Checklists indicate the distance and effort taken for any given outing, and the duration, often significant.

There are scores of reports from Gloucester whale watch trips –customers and staff. Look for ‘Stellwagen Bank’ as a listed location. I think I’d like the location column added to one default screen, and a category for whale watching.

ebird

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Screenshot_073016_070550_AM Screenshot_073016_064734_AM

 

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eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance. eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Available: http://www.ebird.org. (Accessed: Date [July 30, 2016]).

Gloucester HarborWalk marker for birds/birding is located along the walkway by Gloucester House, I4C2, and Topside Grill.

Gloucester HarborWalk marker for whales is located just outside Tonno.

SEVEN SEAS WHALE WATCH +1-888-283-1776
CAPE ANN WHALE WATCH +1-800-877-5110
CAPT BILL & SONS +1-800-339-4253
YANKEE FLEET +1-978-283-0313

 

piping plovers on Coffins Beach: intertidal mile and they’re holdin’ on.

20160715_143652Gloucester’s Coffins Beach is a long, long stretch of wide open sandy seashore framed by dunes, sea and sky. Growing up, we called it the private side of Wingaersheek. I could hear piping plovers and saw two ‘in the zone’– the intertidal bit that is still wet at low tide and well under water at high tide. I didn’t see birds in the safe retreats by the upper part of the beach, but heard the melodious chirps that inspired their nickname.

Listen to the piping plover

 

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Essex County Greenbelt protective measures in concert with  MA Wildlife
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dog prints by the rope fence
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saw 5 dogs on the beach
FHL coffins beach mfa
Fitz Hugh Lane, Coffins Beach, MFA

 

Piping plovers have quite a story. In Massachusetts, the vast majority are south, Cape Cod and the islands. By the close of the 19th century, these birds were near extinction. They rebounded successfully by the 1950’s.

I spoke with Dave Rimmer of Essex County Greenbelt, Marion Larson with Ma Wildlife, Deborah Cramer and Chris Leahy. All of them have updates for GMG which I’ll add next. First,

Chris Leahy, MA Audubon, explained that a second age of precipitous piping plover decline occurred in the 1960’s and 70’s. What do you think it was?

Read on to find out.
Continue reading “piping plovers on Coffins Beach: intertidal mile and they’re holdin’ on.”